Will twitter change the course of history and swing the Presidential election?

Another too-close-to-call Presidential campaign. And a pivotal moment is being identified as the first Presidential debate, which seems to have caught out team Obama by the influence of a whirlwind of tweets on reshaping political opinion

ABC’s Michael Brissenden suggested it did.

In his post Twitter frenzies shake up traditional debate tactics, he suggests that “In politics Twitter might be proving to be a new and somewhat unpredictable complication”. I have summarized his analysis below:

Impact of the first televised debate

If Barack Obama does lose this election, the first TV debate of this campaign will take on a historical significance that will be studied by political science undergraduates for years to come and no doubt writ large in campaign strategists’ offices for decades.

The frenzy of online engagement is like performance algebra – a jumble of characters, symbols and short, sharp calculations that somehow end up reaching a conclusion, faster and more efficiently than the old-school campaign long division.

As a result 90 minutes of prime time TV became a political eternity. In cyber space no-one can hear you scream but they can sure tell if you’re off your game. They used to say you could tell who won a TV debate even with the sound turned off – but no-one can control the volume of instant messaging. And politicians all over the world are being caught flat-footed by it.

It was 90 minutes the Obama campaign could never get back. The dynamics shifted decisively and now we have a contest that some think could end up being one of the closest presidential races ever.

Two more weeks

Two more weeks of relentless politics, increasingly targeted on the handful of ‘swing states’ whose uncommitted voters are believed to hold the key to the election. Two more weeks of attack ads. Do they influence anybody? And if not, why are funders spending billions of dollars on an expensive turnoff? The pollsters have been predicting a close race for some while.

To be continued

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